September 26, 2022 real estate

Only 19 out of 143 expats get official approval to own properties since 2000


KUWAIT: Exclusive statistics obtained by Kuwait Times show the number of expatriates who applied to own real estate in Kuwait reached 143 applicants since 2000, but only 19 requests were approved by the Cabinet, according to the registration and authentication department at the ministry of justice. The statistics showed the nationalities who obtained documents for owning real estate in Kuwait since 2000 include six Jordanians, four Syrians, three Yemenis, two Egyptians, two Lebanese, one Tunisian and one Palestinian.

Accordingly, 115 requests submitted to the Cabinet were rejected, including from 34 Jordanians, 12 Yemenis, 35 Syrians, 23 Lebanese, 11 Palestinians, 12 Egyptians, eight Iraqis, one Sudanese, one Tunisian and one Moroccan. Meanwhile, applications from non-Arab nationals who were rejected include two British, one French, one Australian and one Canadian. Asem Al-Osaimi, head of legal affairs at the real estate registration and authentication department at the ministry of justice, in an interview with Kuwait Times, explained the processes and conditions residents need to follow to apply to own properties in Kuwait from a legal angle, stressing that final approval has to come from the Council of Ministers’ General Secretariat.

“The original law at the real estate registration department at the ministry of justice says only citizens can own real estate in the country, but law no. 74 of 1979 allowed residents of Arab nationalities to own real estate in Kuwait. Embassies and diplomatic missions can also own properties in Kuwait, according to the amendment of article 2 of law no. 119 of 1986,” Osaimi said. He pointed out Kuwaiti law does not allow non-Arab residents to own real estate as personal property in the country.

“When the legislators set the law of owning property in Kuwait, they explained in the beginning that Kuwait is not a large country, and priority of ownership should be given to citizens. But the law later added Arab nationals as well, which will cause a problem related to areas and demographics,” he explained.

Regarding the conditions for expats to own real estate in Kuwait, Osaimi said: “Applicants who want to own property in Kuwait have to submit their applications with the required papers to the real estate registration department at the ministry of justice. The main conditions set by the Cabinet include residing in Kuwait for at least 10 years before the date of submitting the request, and financial solvency that allows them to buy property.”

Meanwhile, Osaimi pointed out several rules for expats owning real estate in the country. “The law does not allow the expat to gift the property to someone else – the property must be sold or bought. The property should only be for residential purposes. If the authorities find out the owner violates this condition, the property could be withdrawn,” he said, adding, “The property area should not exceed 1,000 meters and cannot combine properties that exceed this area. In this case, the law will obligate him to dispose one of the two properties within a year.”

Osaimi added Kuwaitis should be treated similarly in the country of the expat applicant, meaning they should be allowed to own property in that country, in addition to the fact that a foreigner cannot share ownership of the property with a Kuwaiti. Regarding the minimum amount that has to be in the expat’s bank account in order to approve his request to own property in Kuwait, he said: “The law does not specify a minimum amount the applicant should have in their bank account. They should only have financial solvency.”

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